City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Hector Santiago and Top Chef: cigars, women and fried steak

If luring famous women and smoking cigars can get you noticed, then chef Hector Santiago of Pura Vida is well on his way. After all, it worked for Donald Trump, right?

If you’ve been keeping up with Atlanta’s stake in Season 6 of Top Chef, you know that chef Santiago’s deep-fried steak didn’t go over so well with the judges (if you need to catch up, check out John Kessler’s hilarious recap), even if he does claim to cook with “heart and balls.” Ouch. I don’t even want to think about that.

If you’d like to judge for yourself, head over to Pura Vida tonight, where the special is … Top Chef promo music here, please … deep-fried steak in a smoky brine for $11. Owner (and Hector’s lovely wife) Leslie Santiago tells me the plan is to offer a special of whatever Hector cooks on Top Chef each week from Thursday through Monday nights.

I tried it Saturday night, and while not overwhelmed (there is goat mofongo on the menu, after all, to distract me), I certainly don’t think the dish prompted Hector’s call to the lineup of possible pack-your-knives-and-goers. The meat is tender and medium rare, sliced and fanned across the plate with just a trace of … is that cigar smoke?

4 comments Add your comment

Joe inN. Calif

September 10th, 2009
11:51 am

Deep fried steak is a classic cowboy/chuckwagon dish. Face it, it is just prejudice that made them not like it. Deep fry chicken? Classic! Deep fry turkey? Innovative! Deep fry pork belly? Thinking outside the box to bring out the best of the ingredient! Deep fry steak? ABOMINATION! ANATHAMA!


August 24th, 2009
4:14 pm

I’m surprised Tom C didn’t say “Honor Thy Protein”.


August 24th, 2009
2:49 pm

Food snobbery is not a bad thing, as long as you accept varying preparations and maybe give something a taste before deciding it’s an affront.

I’ll just bet that the fried steak (and I’d love to get to P.Vida to try it) is a tasty thing. Sure, I prefer my steak warm, buttery-soft and bloody but hey, deep-frying a shoe might taste good if it’s seasoned well. :)

I think they were a little too hard on Chef Hector for the simple fact that he deep fried it.

And again I say “GO, ATL THREE!!” :)


August 24th, 2009
2:18 pm

It seems like some people get caught up in the “you shouldn’t do ___” with particular ingredients, rather than judging the results. It makes the judges job easy, and do we really expect the other judges to speak up and say that they liked the taste of the steak after Wolfgang and Tom had their little giggle-fest when Tom asked Wolfgang what he would do if one of his chefs deep fried a steak at Cut.

It’s just TV, but I think those kinds of comments lead to food snobbery.